Ripped Off

Late into the night,

Crying alone,

Suffering alone;

Loving at the end

Is hard to stop,

Though a bomb you dropped –

“Love can’t continue.”

Your gentleness

Used to luminesce,

But now you’ve ripped off

All and left me

Like an amputee.

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The Hollars

The moment I caught sight of Margo Martindale (whom I’ve been impressed with since I watched her in the 1987 Steel Magnolia) and Richard Jenkins on the cover of this DVD, I decided I would borrow it and watch it the moment I got home. I did not have to read the synopsis or be enticed by the “Fiercely Funny” quote or the logos of the Sundance and Los Angeles Film Festivals. It came as a pleasant surprise that one of my favourite singers, Josh Groban, also has a small role in the movie.

The story begins with graphic novelist John Hollar (John Krasinski, also the director and a producer) learning from his fiancee Rebecca (Anna Kendricks) that his mother, Sally (Martindale) is diagnosed with a brain tumour. He leaves New York City in a hurry to be with his father Don (Jenkins) and brother Ron (Sharlto Copley) in his rural hometown. There, John meets his high school classmate and mother’s nurse Jason (Charlie Day), who married his ex-girlfriend Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Ron spies on his ex-wife and two daughters but is confronted by her new partner, Reverend Dan (Groban), who comes to understand that Ron really loves his kids. On the eve of her operation, John and Sally sneak out of the hospital to enjoy her “last meal”…

The movie is at times funny and sweet, at times touching and moving. The best performances are of course from Martindale and Jenkins. They make their characters so believable, and are such a joy to watch. I’m captivated each time they appear- Jenkins impresses as the father who cannot cope with his wife’s illness and  Martindale is pure magic: she is hilarious and made me laugh a lot, and in some scenes, her heartbreaking performances brought me tears. Some of the funny moments are also moments of truth.

The Shallows

I borrowed this 2016 DVD because I deliberately gave it a miss at the cinemas because I wasn’t such a fan of Blake Lively or the sea to want to buy a ticket to watch it. Even before the end of the movie (almost one-and-a-half hours, but I fast-forwarded some parts so it was only about an hour for me), I was so glad I had made that decision!

Nancy (Blake Lively) travels to a secluded beach for some surfing after the death of her mother. She encounters a great white shark which bites her, but eventually manages to swim to an isolated rock where she spends the night. The next day, she manages to swim to a nearby buoy and finds a flaregun which she uses to draw attention for help but instead is pursued by a shark. She is eventually found and rescued. The movie ends with her going surfing with her sister Chloe (Sedona Legge) in Galveston, Texas one year later.

The only thing thing I like about this movie is obviously the great cinematography of the ‘secret’ beach.  My hats off to the fantastic crew involved in the stunts, visual effects and special effects and photography, especially the engineers and technicians, divers and stunt doubles. The beach is made to look like such a magical and wonderful place – unique, mystical and spectacular. I think this place is the heart and soul of the film, not so much the stoic telling of a endurance and survival story. It looks like a paradise, a dream.

Edge of Winter

I became interested in viewing this 2016 DVD when I realised there are two child actors in it – Tom Holland (as 13or14-year-old Bradley) and Percy Hynes White (as 11or12-year-old Caleb). I was also keen to look at the snowy landscape as I’ve never experienced snow first-hand.

The story is about two brothers who are standed in a deserted cabin near a frozen lake with their father,  and how this bonding opportunity turns into a nightmarish adventure when their father, Elliot (Joel Kinnaman) realised he may lose custody of them and how this pushes him to the edge.

Somehow, I was disappointed by the movie. Peerhaps it has something to do with the rifle under the bed, shooting dead a rabbit and a deer as game, drinking, cursing (a lot involving the f-word), senseless fighting and killing of two innocent men. There are also loopholes, like: how did Elliot manage to drag a dead man and hide him under the floorboards of the room in the cabin where the boys slept? how did naive Caleb even know how to drive when Bradley purportedly got his first driving lesson from his father just a few hours before? The thrills (whatever that is) are manufactured, the suspense is non-existant, the two characters (Luc and Richard, played by Rossif Sutherland and Shiloh Fernandez respectively) introduced at the remote mountains serve no real purpose, and whatever action there is, is quite weak.

Despite the snowy landscape shot perhaps in Canada, the special effects and visual effects and the stunts did not leave me impressed and I was actually glad when the movie ended as the brothers made their escape in the car, though it was quite ludicrous too.

 

Hope

 

A beauty in the crowd,

Floating like a cloud;

With a magic charm

Like a fragrance worn.

Never fearful not scared,

In the face of hurt;

Unafraid of pain,

With not a complaint.

Persistant and so brave

To not be enslaved;

Hope is perennial

And perceptible.

Life can sometimes annoy

But there’s also joy;

Drown not in the blues

Or there’s much to lose.

Love Is Around

 

Dawn has broken,

The sky is still grey;

I feel misbegotten

And in disarray.

A new member

In the world of grief,

I feel lost and wonder

What is underneath.

There is a voice

That says love’s around;

That it’ll metamorphose

Until you’re spellbound.

It’s inexplicable,

But it’s not a dream;

Hurts are inevitable,

But soon there’ll be a gleam.

Jason Bourne

I did not watch Jason Bourne (2016) at the cinema because I did not enjoy The Bourne Legacy, though I liked the first three films in the series (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy & The Bourne Ultimatum).

This movie is based on the characters created by Robert Ludlum and produced by Matt Damon. Matt Damon is Jason Bourne, a former CIA assasin and psychogenic amnesiac.

This film opens with Bourne making a living by taking part in fighting bouts in Tsamantas, Greece. Meanwhile, in Reykjavik, Ireland, Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), Bourne’s former contact sent into hiding, hacks into the CIA’s computer operations programmes. This alerts Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), head of cybersecurity and CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones).

Parsons travels to Athens to find Bourne. They meet at Syntagma Square, trying to evade the CIA teams. Unfortunately, Parsons is shot dead. Bourne then travels to Berlin, where he gathers enough information to track down Malcolm Smith (Bill Camp), a former CIA analyst who retired to the private sector, in London, meeting him in Paddington Plaza. Smith gets killed and Bourne finds his way to a technology convention in Las Vegas. There is a showdown at the Las Vegas Strip, after which Lee meets Bourne and tries to convince him to rejoin CIA.

The story is told in such a way that is supposed to be relevant to the world today. Enemies have become much more sophisticated – Malware attack, a different version of warfare.

There are many car chases, foot chases, motorcycle chases – all heart-pounding, hair-raising, high-speed, with lots of force and energy on display. The final showdown at the Las Vegas Strip is the climax. It is also glitzy and flashy, with the awesome special effects and sophisticated stunt work – some of the most innovative action imaginable. The crowd scene involving thousands of people is simply incredible and mind-boggling – a nerve-wrecking and extraordinary action scene.

More than the actors and film crew, I think the biggest accolades should go to the production teams behind the scenes – the special effects, visual effects, stunts, photography, aerial unit etc – in Tsamantas (Greece), Reykjavik (Ireland), Virginia, Silicon Valley (California), Rome (Italy), Athens (Greece), Berlin (Germany), Tenerife (Spain), Washington D C and Las Vegas (Nevada).